“I have spent a lot of time thinking on what I should say to you as my last words of advice today in these uncertain times. The words have not come easy as there is so much to say and we have unfortunately not been with you, in person, the past several months. There are so many conversations I wanted to have with you about the uncertainty of the virus, the protests and how to respond to racism in our society. But one day as I walked around the silent halls as I did many days this quarter, I looked above the lockers and saw those action statements and realized I did not have to give you some new profound message. I just needed to remind you about them and what you have learned at St. John Paul II so you can put into practice what you have already been taught.
Perseverance in Difficulty – You persevered on the athletic courts and fields. You persevered in the class room, with eLearning and through the quarantine. You lost senior celebratory events but still found joy at the end of your high school career.
Continue to persevere when life hands you difficult times. You are strong, courageous and have the spirit to endure what ever challenging times come your way. Don’t take shortcuts and always give 100%.
Choose Integrity – You were honest even when it was difficult to be. You didn’t let someone else take the blame for something you did. You did your own work.
Continue to choose integrity and do what is right even when no one is looking. Don’t blame others or make excuses for your actions. Stand up for what you believe in even if it is not popular.
Serve those in Need- You served each other. You served a friend who was in need of comfort or support. You assisted victims of several hurricanes. You served the poor in our community at the Kearney center. Continue to serve others. Serve others when you are busy, when it is inconvenient, when you would rather do something else. Serve those in need because there are always those in need.
Create Beauty – You created beauty at our school. You created beauty with your voices. You created beauty with your paint brushes. You created beauty on the football, soccer and baseball fields. You created beauty on the basketball and volleyball courts. You created beauty at our weekly masses and at our winter showcase. You created beauty through a literature and art magazine. You helped maintain our beautiful campus with the gardening club. Create beauty by choosing words that unite and inspire, not divide and hurt. Create beauty by expressing joy. Create beauty in our world by sharing your gifts and making the world a better place to live.
Defend the Vulnerable – You have marched in Washington to protect the unborn. You have learned about the plight of immigrants who have sacrificed everything for a new beginning. You have fed the homeless here in our community. Be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Stand up for the rights of the less fortunate. Be a witness against injustice in its many forms. Stand in solidarity with the vulnerable.
Seek the Truth – You sought the truth in the classroom. You sought the truth in your theology classes. You learned how to find primary sources and to differentiate between facts and opinions. In this world where every story is presented through the lense of a multitude of agendas, do not consume information at face value. Do not solely surround yourself with people of similar backgrounds, views and opinions. Seek the diversity you were blessed to experience here at St. John Paul II. Through a diversity of backgrounds and ethnicities you will will be enriched. Seek the truth. Find the facts. Let this path to discovery be guided by prayer and formulate your own thoughts and opinions.
I leave you with the words from our patron saint, Saint John Paul II “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with him in the building of the civilization of love.”
Take what you have learned at SJPII, the person you have become and the courage you have attained to be a force for change. Make the world a better place and make a difference in your community.
I am proud of each and every one of you.
I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020.
Congratulations Graduates of St. John Paul II
Catholic High School!” – Joanna Copenhaver, Principal